You probably have endless concerns about the day you finally go into labor. Maybe you’re wondering about your pain threshold, or you’re wondering how many people they’ll let in the room with you or how many hours you’ll be pushing for. All of these concerns are valid, and they’re all simply indicators that you want your birth to go as smoothly as possible with no complications. Unfortunately, some unforeseen surprises might sneak up on you during delivery, so it’s best to be prepared. One of those surprises could be your doctors coming at you with a big, gleaming pair of metal tongs.
These are not tongs, they are forceps, and you’ve probably heard the controversy surrounding them. Doctors do avoid using them when they can because many mothers resist the procedures, but a new study does show that the Kielland’s forceps are absolutely safe for delivery.
If all goes according to plan during your labor, forceps won’t even be on your doctor’s mind. Though, there are a few things that could go wrong that would have your doctor reaching for them. If your baby is on his or her way out of the womb but turns to a bad position, forceps might be used to manually turn the baby over. You might also need assistance if you can’t push any longer due to a medical condition or fatigue.
Usually, there are some alternatives when forceps are needed and they include a vacuum or a cesarean section. This is obviously a more complex process than a simple grasp with forceps, but some women prefer it, especially if they really want to try for a vaginal delivery. However, if you’re too far along in your birth, it might be too late to opt for a cesarean.
According to the study, Kielland’s forceps are used to turn the baby's head in a different direction and they are only dangerous when the doctor doesn’t know how to use them properly. But then, that applies to anything else too. Don't use something unless you know what to do with it. A skilled and practiced physician will be able to assist your baby in his or her birth with no negative side effects. Years after the birth, you’ll forget that they were even used.
Since the use of forceps is usually a quick decision on the delivery team, speak with your doctor at length about forceps before you go into labor so that you feel prepared for them if things start to take a turn. Fidn out how much experience your doctor has with forceps. While studies show that forceps are safe, you can express your discomfort to using them beforehand so that your delivery team knows to seek an alternative as early as possible.
Source: Naomi Burke et al: Use and Safety of Kielland’s Forceps in Current Obstetric Practice. Obstetrics and Gynecology Volume 120 Issue 4 pp.766-770 October 2012